South African tourism minister, Derek Hanekom, has called on Africans to come together to sell the continent to the rest of the world.
He said the tourism figures from last year though showing increase, in arrivals were disappointing.
However, they present an opportunity to make Africa the preferred destination for tourists, Mr Hanekom suggested.
According to him, Africa attracted 62 million tourists which is only 5% of the 1.2billion tourists’ arrival figures.
While lamenting that this was a low figure, Derek Hanekom acknowledged the fact that this presents a challenge and an opportunity to sell the continent to the world.
The minister was speaking at the official opening of the 2018 edition of the leading tourism trade event on the African continent, ‘Africa’s Tourism Indaba’ at the International Convention Centre in Durban, the capital of the KwaZulu Natal Province.
He noted that there were more exhibitors at this year’s Indaba than there has been at previous events, and he believes it gives an opportunity for improving the business of tourism for the continent and beyond.
“All the hard work that everyone has put in behind-the-scenes for the past year, all the meetings and planning – it’s about to pay off,” he added.
He said there were no less than 1,747 buyers from 80 countries all over the world and from 22 countries on the African continent participating in the 2018 edition of the renamed and rebranded Africa’s Travel Indaba.
Hanekom said Africa’s Travel Indaba was the result of collaboration between the bid parties, South African Tourism and the South African government, as well as the owners and operators of attractions and facilities.
“While you are here, you will experience the spirit and soul of Africa, the opportunity to immerse yourselves in the culture and traditions of no less than 22 exhibiting African countries,” Hanekom advised the delegates.
In a short welcome address, the CEO of South African Tourism, Sisa Ntshona, told delegates to feel at home and to enjoy South Africa, KwaZulu Natal and Durban as much as they could while making business from the opportunity presented by Indaba.
“Over the next three days, we look forward to hosting you and ensuring that we provide the necessary platforms to grow your business and creating opportunities for Africa to shine in the travel and tourism industry,” he said.
Deputy Mayor of Durban Fawzia Peer welcomed guests to the city of Durban and made a huge announcement that Durban had secured a new direct route with British Airways to fly directly to London’s Heathrow Airport from this year.
Africa’s Travel Indaba is Africa’s leading travel trade show which has run for over 35 years and is considered as one of the top three travel events to attend globally.
Following the ceremonial ringing of the bell, by tourism minister Derek Hanekom and his Deputy, Elizabeth Thabethe, he together with Sisa Ntshona, Peer and other officials visited stands at the exhibition floors.
The 2018 edition of Africa’s Travel Indaba runs from Tuesday, May 8 to Thursday, May 10.
By Francis Doku|3news.com|Ghana